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So let's say you go to town on customizing a site. Well, what you do in SharePoint when you create a staggering work of genius? Let's say you've taken several hours and you've customized a SharePoint team site. You've changed the theme, you have moved Web Parts around, you've uploaded images, you might have created custom lists and new libraries, and even filled out some of those lists. You're looking at the site thinking, you know, this would be really useful if someone else could use this as a starting point. They could use this one instead of a normal Microsoft SharePoint team site.
Well, you can make that happen. It's very easy to do. First, you make all the changes that you want to make to your site and you go to your Site Actions down to Site Settings. What we are going to do is save this site as a template. We're making our own site template in SharePoint. That option is over here in Site Actions > Save Site as Template. We click it. It's going to ask us to give us a filename. This is because our changes are going to be packaged up as a single file. We'll see what that means in just a moment, but I'm just going to call this twotrees.
Here I'll give it a template name, which should be user friendly. I'll call this the Two Trees team site and perhaps even a little description. Use this one instead of the default team site. Here is the key choice you want to make. Do I check the box to include content or not? In fact, this is your last option before you click OK and save this as a template. If you check it to include content, it means any entry you put in the list, any document you uploaded to a library, will be included as part of this template that might be what you want.
That might not be what you want. In my case, it is what I want. I created a couple of lists called Useful Links and Useful Contacts and I put some data in those lists, and I like those to be there when somebody creates a new site based on this template. So I'm going to click OK and what happens here? Well, what it's going to do is take all those changes I made, the theme changes, the new lists, the uploaded images, the rearranged Web Parts, and it's going to package those together into what SharePoint calls a solution.
Solutions in SharePoint on how we start to add extra pieces of functionality. It gives us a message here, "This Web site has been successfully saved to the solutions gallery. You can now create sites based on this solution." What's a gallery? All it says to manage them, go to the solution gallery. I'm going to go there. It has one thing in it called twotrees. I actually mouse over that and take a look at the URL that pops up in the status bar, it seems to be a single file called twotrees.wsp.
That could be useful because, what we can actually do is take a copy of this and copy it not just across to a different site collection but to an entirely different SharePoint server. If you have developers that write custom code, they might be packaging up their programmers as Solutions, so they can be deployed into SharePoint and SharePoint knows what to do with them. Now, what does this really mean? Well, the gallery idea in SharePoint is the idea that you put something in a gallery if you want it to be viewable and usable by a lot of different people.
Just like a gallery in the real world is where you put things on display. Well, if I go to my Site Actions > Site Settings, I actually have a section here called Galleries or I have Web part gallery, Master page gallery that control the overall look and feel of the SharePoint pages themselves. The Solutions gallery, which is where I was. As the tooltip says, this contains additional functionality and templates for sites. The question is well now what? What do I do with these? What it simply means is I can go back to say my homepage, click Site Actions > New Site and when I'm now making a new site, I actually have down at the bottom here a custom one called twotrees.
I am going to give it the name of the Two Trees Sales Team, give it a URL at sales, and click Create and we have the new site now. There's instantly a couple of things that might be apparent. One is that because I chose to include content to include my changes, the fact that I put in explicit text that said Two Trees Operations Team, while we are now in the Two Trees Sales Team, may mean that yes, I'm going to need to make a few changes to this page.
But what we're obviously getting here are the Links list and the Contacts list that I had created with the data inside it. we are getting the image that I had created. This theme did not carry over here, but we could easily change that in our Site Settings page. Now at the moment this new site template is only available in this particular site collection. What that means is if I go back to my Site Settings, I'm going to look at my Galleries here.
Now, I don't see a solutions gallery because, the solutions gallery only exists in the top-level site. So I'm going to go to my top-level site settings. I could either manually navigate or I've got little shortcut link here. I have the extra solutions gallery there. And the couple of choices that I have here with my solution is I can deactivate it than delete it if I wanted to, but what I could also do is simply click on this 12 megabytes at the moment. I could save that to my desktop. So I've downloaded this to my local machine.
Now, it's not that I'm really interested in the contents of this file, but what I can do is if I have a different site collection that I want to use and I do. In this case, I'm going to go to another site collection where that template doesn't exist and if you want me to prove it, I quickly will. If we say New Site, I do not have the ability to create a Two Trees team site. What I can do is go to my Site Actions > Site Settings, find the solution gallery for this site collection which right now has nothing in it, go to my Solutions section of the Ribbon, click Upload Solution, find that WSP file, click OK.
After it's been uploaded, we do need to activate it to make sure it can be used. Now inside this site collection, I can go back to any site in it, select Site Actions > New Site. I'll now have the twotrees site ready to create there as well. Now, even if you're not intending to duplicate multiple sites, one thing you want to think about here is because we can package up the site and its content, but actually saving a site as this template and copying it from one site collection to another is actually quite a useful way of effectively moving a site from one site collection to another. Because the sites that you create stay completely independent.
They are not linking back to the master site that you changed. They are all individual copies with their own information. You just need to be aware that when a solution is in a solutions gallery, that's only for a specific site collection and that you'll need to copy them across site collections if you want to use them in multiple locations.
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